The trend of the coronavirus epidemic is clearly on the rise. A situation which is not considered alarming at this stage by the actors in the field. However, we must remain vigilant believes Leïla Belkhir, infectious disease specialist at Saint-Luc university clinics: “This Saturday morning, I had only one patient in my covid unit and this Monday I had 8. This weekend, there were therefore 7 admissions. We don’t have to have 7 admissions every day. Everything must be done to keep the situation under control.“
A feeling shared by Yves Coppieters, professor of public health at ULB. “For now, the positivity rate (the one indicator that measures the frequency of infection in the population) is stable, around 3%. It should not exceed 5%. This rate is also proportional to the number of tests that we carry out, but it may increase in the future, because the reproduction rate which is currently greater than 1. This means that the epidemic is resuming in dynamics, since a person infected transmits the virus to more than one person on average“.
If the epidemic is gaining strength, patient care has improved, however, underlines Leïla Belkhir: “The patients I treat get better faster, and go to intensive care less“.
Risk of re-containment?
So, are these rising numbers a harbinger of re-containment in the coming weeks? Yves Coppieters does not think so. If there is any re-containment, it will be located. On the other hand, he deplores a real problem with testing. “There is significant congestion in this testing. Differentiated testing must be set up, with direct access for symptomatic people or for people who have had direct contact with a patient, as well as other testing for people returning from red areas. And for all these tests, response times must absolutely be reduced“.
Leîla Belkhir also points to this problem of testing.
“General practitioners are under too much pressure, while it is only September 14, and all the respiratory viruses have not yet emerged. They have already drowned, and therefore clearly, access to testing must be facilitated to relieve these front-line actors. The real danger is that this first line will be overwhelmed, and it happens to be already in some cities, in some areas.“.